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Just call her 'Muscles'

Linda Graybeal rules world record book in powerlifting


FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Linda Graybeal heard the roar of the crowd when she set a world record in the deadlift at the recent world powerlifting championships in Portland.Linda Graybeal laughs and often wonders why “an old lady” such as herself competes in powerlifting.

Actually, what the Lake Oswego woman is doing is winning every gold medal and setting every world record in sight for women in the 70-74 age division. Two years ago the 73-year-old Graybeal swept the golds and the records at the APA-WPA World Powerlifting Championship. On Oct. 7 she did it again.

Graybeal not only defeated all of her opponents, she defeated Mother Nature. Her total of 388.1 pounds in the squat, bench and deadlift surpassed her previous world record by 70 pounds. This is off the charts.

“Mostly powerlifters improve by only 1 or 2 pounds over a year,” Graybeal said. “Here I was two years older and I had improved by 70 pounds. I had actually gained muscle mass during that period, which is really kind of cool.”

“Kind of cool” is about as close to bragging that Graybeal gets, although she did some playful muscle flexing after the awards ceremony.

Making this the best powerlifting competitive experience in Graybeal’s short but dazzling career was that her children got to watch her compete for the first time. She is one strong mother. In addition, she placed third overall among ALL women.

“That was thing I was proudest of,” Graybeal said.

Her competition had an incredible conclusion. After failing in three tries to set a world record in the deadlift, Graybeal was given a fourth attempt. The fans were roaring as she approached the bar.

“The crowd went crazy,” Graybeal said. “It was like the crowd lifted the bar for me.”

A giant whoosh seemed to go through the spectators as Graybeal lifted 181.9 pounds to set a world record.

“It was one and a half times my body weight,” she said. “I had never even attempted that weight before.”

Graybeal’s goal was quite humble when she took up powerlifting. She wanted to rehab a neck injury that was making her golden years quite painful. But as she told her trainer Kyle Young, “I don’t want a namby pamby program for an old lady.” Actually, Graybeal had always been a great athlete. Something clicked during her rehab and she began feeling “very sturdy.”

Young talked her into entering the APF-AAPF Primal Strength Fest in Portland in 2014. She wore a singlet for the first time and was even afraid she would chicken out. “I didn’t know whether I would make a fool of myself,” Graybeal said. She ended up with every gold medal and American record in her division.

Afterward, something very cool happened to Graybeal. She was featured in a muscle magazine.

She decided to do it all over again when it was announced that the world powerlifting tournament was coming to Portland.

“I just felt I should do it again,” Graybeal said. “I am sort of competitive at heart. I couldn’t rest on my laurels.”

She isn’t resting on her laurels now, either. Graybeal plans to keep on competing. She enjoys doing the incredible.

“I know I can’t expect to keep going up all of the time,” she said. “But as long as I can I’ll keep doing it.”